We left before the horde of angry nuns could descend upon us and take us to task over our incongruous humor. Rankin drove us back to the precinct. Lilly waited for me at our desk, sipping coffee and talking to Manson.
She gave me a smile when I walked up but frowned when she noticed Rankin and I came in without Elsa.
“Where is Elsa Winters?”
“Um, she didn’t make the trip,” I began, as I sat at the desk. “She slit both forearms to the elbow and bled out on the steps of the church.”
“My God,” Lilly exclaimed.
“Yeah. Molly is running a full battery of tests and the autopsy.”
“Do you think Titus killed her?”
“No. I think the burning of her new hometown, the death of Bradley Freeman, and the loss of her son led her to do herself in.”
“The poor woman.”
“Um, let’s not forget that this poor woman beat Bradley Freeman. Let’s not forget that Bradley Freeman was tortured, ran over and dragged down the road. He’s the victim, and she had no problem letting him die.”
“I know but to kill yourself on the church steps…”
“Yeah. I know.”
“So, what now?”
“We wait for Molly to finish the autopsy. Did you get the information about Jackson Titus’s family cabin?”
“I did. It sits on the ridge above the lake.”
“Can you pull up a graphic of the area? Maybe we could find a way up to avoid putting Titus on alert.”
“I’ll get right on it. We’ll get him, Konan.”
My words did little to comfort me though. Elsa Winters killed herself on the steps of the church instead of turning over the people who helped her carry out her revenge. Bronowski had only talked to avoid taking the fall of Bradley Freeman’s gruesome murder. The world had become mad, and we were all just puppets having our strings pulled.
It was enough to make a man lose faith.
Tray Tan drove the van to the old train depot and pulled into an unused tunnel. There, the crew unloaded the money into another vehicle and drove to an old farmhouse on the other side of town.
The lights were on when Tan and the crew pulled in. They offloaded and took the money inside the house. Mayor Tim Smith sat at the table and watched them carry the bags into the living room.
“No, boss. Everything went right as rain. The old man complied like you said he would.”
“We dropped him off at his house like you said to.”
Smith and Lopez joined the others in the living room and poured the money in the center of the room. The final count was 278 million dollars.
“55.6 mil apiece,” Tray Tan yelled in glee. “We’re rich! Filthy rich!”
Pop-Pop slapped him on the back and grinned. The others shared in the rapturous elation of committing the crime of their lifetimes.
“Pop-Pop, you wanted to send your money to someone,” Lopez reminded him. The old man nodded.
“Yes. I have a daughter here in Fredericksburg. I want my share to go to her.”
“Okay,” Tia said, “but you’re not dying or anything. Why put the money into an account for her now?”
“Because I am dying, Tia. I’ve got cancer in my bones; my time is nearly finished. This was my last job.”
The crew turned to Mayor Smith and stared at him and then at Pop-Pop.
“Did you know about this, boss?”
“Yes,” Mayor Smith said. “Pops told me about it.”
A swollen silence fell upon the room, the elation they had felt was suddenly diminished. Later, after the shares were split evenly, Tia sat down on the couch next to Mayor Smith.
“What happened to the old man from the bank?”
“He went to join his wife.”
“That wasn’t part of the plan, baby. He was harmless.”
“It was always part of the plan, Tia. Everyone knows the rules. No one can jeopardize the success of the mission. That means no witnesses.”
“Alright. I got it.”
“He didn’t suffer, Tia. I made it painless.”
“He deserved that much at least.”
The night was young, but morning wouldn’t be far off. They would rest until daylight, and then, each team member would load two to a vehicle and depart from the farmhouse fifteen minutes apart.
All the hard work they’d done had paid off. Their new lives were soon to start. Mayor Smith drew in a deep breath and sighed.
Easy street was in sight.